NewsEU outrage over provocative Russian actions on Estonian river

EU outrage over provocative Russian actions on Estonian river

The EU demands explanations. Russia must return the buoys from the Estonian border
The EU demands explanations. Russia must return the buoys from the Estonian border
Images source: © Getty Images

2:21 PM EDT, May 24, 2024

The incident on the Narva River fits into the broader pattern of provocative behaviors and hybrid actions by Russia, stated EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell on Friday. He also expected that Russia would explain the incident and return the buoys it removed from the river.

On Thursday morning, the Narva River, which forms the border between Estonia and Russia, was involved in an incident. The Russian border guard removed 24 buoys on the Estonian side of the river. The Estonians did not attempt to oppose the Russians to avoid provoking an escalation of the situation. The Estonian authorities regarded this event as a provocation.

Borrell shared the Estonian authorities' assessment, recognizing the incident as part of a broader pattern of Russia's provocative actions. He noted that this incident at the border fits into Russia's broader scheme of provocative behaviors and hybrid actions, including those at its sea and land borders in the Baltic Sea region.

Borrell emphasized that the European Union has closely monitored the situation, maintaining a spirit of cooperation and solidarity with Estonia and other member states. He stated that the EU expects explanations from Russia regarding removing the buoys and their immediate return.

Buoys on the Narva River

Last year, the Russian side opposed the installation of about half of the 250 planned new buoys on the river by Estonian services. These devices are intended to facilitate navigation in the border region and prevent accidental intrusion into Russian territory.

We did not try to oppose the Russians to avoid escalation. Using force would mean opening fire from a distance. But we will seek the return of the buoys through diplomatic means, said Egert Belitsev, the head of the Estonian Police and Border Guard (PPA), at a press conference.

The Russian action carried out under cover of night fits perfectly into the broader pattern of provocative behaviors by Russia at the borders with its neighbors, including those recent incidents with Lithuania and Finland, stated the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Estonia approaches this calmly and measuredly, emphasized in a communiqué, noting the country's joint actions with its allies.

According to the BNS agency, 24 buoys located on the Estonian side of the Narva River were removed by the Russian border guard early Thursday morning. The Russian services have not yet provided reasons for their actions. Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas stated at Thursday's government conference that this is a "border incident" that requires clarification.

The border between Estonia and Russia is approximately 210 miles long, with about 47 miles running along the Narva River.

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